Ayahuasca Analogs and Pharmahuasca

by Christian Rätsch
v1.1 – Apr 22, 2008
Originally published in The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants
Citation:   Rätsch C. Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. Park Street Press. 2005. pg. 716-19.

Other Names
Anahuasca, ayahuasca borealis

The effects of the pharmacological principle that was discovered during the investigations of traditional ayahuasca can be imitated with other plants that contain the same constituents (harmaline, harmine, N,N-DMT/5-MeO-DMT). Today, nontraditional combinations of plants with these ingredients are known as ayahuasca analogs or anahuasca. Combinations composed of isolated or synthesized constituents are referred to as pharmahuasca.

The term ayahausca analog appears (to) have been coined by Dennis McKenna. The American ethnobotanist Jeremy Bigwood was probably the first person to test pharmahuasca (100 mg each of harmaline hydrochloride and N,N-DMT) on himself; he reported “DMT-like hallucinations” (Ott 1994, 52). The chemist and chaos theorist Mario Markus used the Heffter technique (self-experimentation) to perform extensive experiments into the optimal proportions for mixing the alakaloids.

For Jonathan Ott, the value of the ayahuasca analogs lies in their entheogenic effects, which can help one attain a more profound spiritual ecology and a mystical perspective. Ayahuasca and its analogs can induce a state of shamanic ecstasy, but only when used at proper dosage.

Recipes

All recipes must contain an MAO inhibitor as well as a source of DMT. To date, experiments have been conducted only with Banisteriopsis caapi, Banisteriopsis spp., Peganum harmala, and synthetic (pharmaceutical) MAO inhibitors. But there are other MAO inhibitors in nature, such as Tribulus terrestris. The ongoing investigations into St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) and other Hypericum species as possible MAO-inhibiting admixtures are very interesting. Hypericin, the primary active constituent in Hypericum spp., “has been proven to be a monoamine oxidase inhibitor” (Becker 1994, 48*). Psychotria viridis and Mimosa tennuiflora have been looked at as sources of DMT, but numerous other possibilities also exist. The dosages are determined by the alkaloid concentrations in the various admixtures (DeKorne 1996; Ott 1994).

As with traditional ayahuasca, most ayahuasca analogs have a thoroughly disgusting taste and are therefore generally difficult to force down (because they are forced up again from below). Chewing sliced ginger (Zingiber officianale) can help counteract the often repulsive taste (DeKorne 1994, 98).

The following recipes are formulated to yield a single dose.

Classic Ayahuasca Analog

25 g Psychotria viridis leaves, dried and ground
3 g Peganum harmala seeds, crushed
Juice of one lemon
Enough water to boil all the ingredients (approximately 200-300 ml)

Place all the ingredients in a steel pot. Slowly bring to a boil, then boil rapidly for two to three minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately five more minutes. Pour off the decoction. Add some water to the herbs remaining in the pot and boil again. Pour the first decoction back into the pot. After a while, pour out the liquid once more. Add fresh water to the remaining herbs and bring to a boil again. Remove the plant remnants and compost them, if possible. Mix together the three extracts. Carefully heat the mixture to reduce the total volume. The tea should be drunk as fresh as possible (allow to cool first), although it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. The effects begin about forty-five minutes after ingestion. The visionary phase lasts for about an hour.

Jerumahuasca or Mimosahuasca

Connoisseurs consider this ayahausca analog to be both the most easily tolerated and the most psychoactive preparation.
3 g Peganum harmala seeds, finely ground
9 g Mimosa tenuiflora root cortex
Juice of one lime or lemon

The crushed Syrian rue (P.harmala) seeds may be either swallowed in a gelatin capsule or mixed in water and drunk. The decoction of lemon juice and mimosa root cortex should be drunk fifteen minutes later.

Prairie Ayahuasca

This blend is especially popular in North America. Predominantly pleasant experiences have been reports (ott 1994, 63; cf. DeKorne 1994, 97).
3-4 g Peganum harmala seeds, finely ground
30 g Desmanthus illinoensis root cortex (prairie mimosa, Illinois bundleweed,
Illinois bundleflower)
Juice of one lemon or lime
Prepare in the same manner as jerumahuasca (above).

Acaciahuasca

This blend is especially popular in Australia and has been used with good success.
3 g Peganum harmala seeds, finely ground
20 g Acacia phlebophylla leaves, ground (cf. Acacia spp.)
Juice of one lemon or lime

Prepare in the same manner as jerumahuasa (above).

Phalahuasca

In Europe, various combinations of Phalaris arundinacea or Phalaris aquatica (see Phalaris spp.) and Peganum harmala have been investigated. Unfortunately, the experiments have been met with little success to date as far as pleasant visionary experiences are concerned. Because of the toxic alkaloid (gramine) that occurs in the reed grasses, these preparations can be very dangerous (Festi and Samorini 1994).

Peyohuasca

This preparation is a combination of Peganum harmala and Lophophora williamsii. It may be pharmacologically very dangerous.

San Pedro Ayahuasca

The following amounts and ingredients have been reported to produce pleasant effects (in Entheogene 5 [1995]. 53).
1-3 g Syrian rue (Peganum harmala)
20-25 g San Pedro cactus powder (see Trichocereus pachanoi)

This blend may be pharmacologically dangerous.

Psilohuasca

This mixture, which is also known as mushroom ayahuasca or soma ayahuasca consists of:
3 g Peganum harmala and 3 g mushrooms (Psilocybe cubensis)
or
2 g Peganum harmala and 1.5 g Psilocybe semilanceata in sage tea

Because the effects of these blends can be extremely unpleasant, people are generally warned against using them (Kent 1995; Malima 1995).

LSA/Desmanthus Ayahuasca

Although the report (in Entheogene 5 [1995]:40 f.) spoke of quite pleasant experiences, this mixture appears to be potentially dangerous.
3 g Peganum harmala
1 Argyreia nervosa seed
3-4 g Desmanthus illinoensis root cortex

Mayahuasca

For several years there has been considerable speculation that the pre-Columbian Maya may have used a psychoactive ritual drink that was an ayahuasca analog. It has been conjectured that the Mayans used a Banisteriopsis species that grows in the Mesoamerican lowlands in combination with a source of DMT to make “mayahuasca” (Hyman 1994). It is entirely possible that Banisteriopsis miricata was used for this purpose, as its stems contain harmine and its leaves DMT. In other words, it is possible that an ayahuasca analog was made from just one plant.

Pharmahuasca

For pharmahuasca, 100 mg N,N-DMT and 50 mg harmaline is usually the recommended dosage per person. However, combinations of 50 mg harmaline, 50 mg harmine, and 50 mg, N,N-DMT have also been tested with success. As a rule, the fewer the β-carbolines, the less the nausea; the more DMT, the more spectacular the visions. The constituents are put into separate gelatin capsules. The capsules with harmaline/harmine is swallowed first and the capsule containing the DMT is taken some fifteen to twenty minutes later. The purely synthetic MAO inhibitor Marplan is also suitable in place of harmaline and harmine (Ott 1996, 34).

Endohuasca

The pharmacologist James Callaway has hypothesized that under certain circumstances a kind of pharmahuasca (which he calls endohuasca) is produced in the brain when both endogenous β-carbolines and endogenous DMT are excreted. This endohuasca produces dreams in a neurochemical manner (Callaway 1995; cf. also Ott 1996).

Plants That Contain MAO-Inhibiting β-Carbolines and May Be Useful for Ayahuasca Analogs

(from Ott 1994; also Fleurentin and Pelt 1982; Schultes and Farnsworth 1982; Shulgin 1996; expanded)1

AGARICEAE

Coriolus maximus (Mont.) Murrill

harmane
APOCYNACEAE

Amsonia tabernaemontana Walt.

harmine and others
Apocynum cannabinnum L. harmalol
Ochrosia nakaiana Koidz harmane
ARACEAE

Pinellia pedatisecta

norharmane
BIGNONIACEAE

Newbouldoia laevis Benth. Et Hook f.

harmane
CALYCANTHACEAE

Calycanthus occidentalis Hook. Et Arnot

harmine
CHENOPODIACEAE

Hammada leptoclada (Pop) Iljin

tetrahydroharmane and others
Kochia scoparia (L.) Schrad. [syn, Bassia scoparia (L.) A.J. Scott] harmine, harmane, triterpene glycosides
K. scoparia var. childsii Kraus
K. scoparia var. trichophylla (Voss) Boom
COMBRETACEAE

Guiera senegalensis Lam.

harmane and others
CYPERACEAE

Carex brevicollis DC.

harmine and others
ELAEAGNACEAE

Elaeagnus angustifolia L.

harmane and others
Elaeagnus hortensis M.B. tetrahydroharmane and others
Elaeagnus orientates L. tetrahydroharmane
Elaeagnus spinosa L. tetrahydroharmane
Hippophae rhamnoides L. harmane and others
Shepherdia argentea Nutt. tetrahydroharmol
Shepherdia Canadensis Nutt. tetrahydroharmol
GRAMINEAE

Arundo donax L.

tetrahydroharmane and others
Festuca arundinaceae Schreber harmane and others
Lolium perenne L. harmane and others
LEGUMINOSAE

Acacia baileyanna F. v. Muell

tetrahydroharmane
Acacia complanata A. Cunn. tetrahydroharmane
Burkea africana Hook. harmane and others
Calliandra petandra tetrahydroharmine
Desmodium pulchellum Benth. Ex Bak. harmane and others
Mucuna pruriens DC. 6-methoxyharmane
Petalostylis labicheoides R. Brown tetrahydroharmane
Petalostylis labicheoides var. cassioides tetrahydroharmane, N,N-DMT
Prosopis nigra (Griseb.) Heironymus harmane and others
LOGANIACEAE

Strychnos usambarensis Gilg. (cf. Strychnos spp.)

harmane
MALPIGHIACEAE

Banisteriopsis spp.

harmine
Cabi paraensis Ducke [syn. Callaeum antifebrile (Griseb.) Johnson] harmine
MYRISTICACEAE

Virola cuspidate (Benth.) warb.

6-methoxyharmane
PASSIFLORACEAE

Passiflora actinea Hook.

harmane
Passiflora alata Aiton harmane
Passiflora alba Link et Otto harmane
Passiflora bryonoides H.B.K. harmane
Passiflora caerulea L. harmane
Passiflora capsularis L. harmane
Passiflora decaisneana Nichol harmane
Passiflora edulis L. harmane, harmol, harmaline, harmine
Passiflora eichleriana Mast. harmane
Passiflora foetida L. harmane
Passiflora incarnata L. harmane, harmine, harmaline
Passiflora involucrate (Mast.) Gentry harmane
harmane β-carbolines
Passiflora quadrangularis L. harmane
Passiflora aff. ruberosa harmane
Passiflora subpeltata Ortega harmane
Passiflora warmingii Mast. (cf. Passiflora spp.) harmane
POLYGONACEAE

Calligonum minimum Lipski

harmane and others
RUBIACEAE

Leptactinia densiflora Hook. Fil.

tetrahydroharmine (= leptaflorin)
Nauclea diderrichii harmane and others
Ophiorrhiza japonica Blume harmane
Pauridiantha callicarpoides Bremek harmane
Pauridiantha dewevrei Bremek harmane
Pauridiantha lyalli Bremek harmane
Pauridiantha viridiflora Hepper harmane
Simira klugii Standl. harmane
Simira rubra K. Schum. harmane
Uncaria attenuata Korth. harmane
Uncaria canescens Korth. harmane
SAPOTACEAE

Chrysophyllum lacourtianum De Wild.

norharmane and others
SYMPLOCACEAE

Symplocos racemosus Roxb.

harmane
ZYGOPHYLLACEAE

Fagonia cretica L.

harmane
Fagonia indica Burm. harmine
Peganum harmala L. harmine, tetrahydroharmane, dihydroharmane, harmane, isoharmine, tetrahydroharmol, harmalol, harmol, norharmine, harmalicin, tetrahydroharmine, harmaline
Tribulus terrestris L. harmine and others
Zygophyllum fabago L. harmine and others
Plants That Contain DMT and May Be Used for Making Ayahuasca Analogs

(from Montgomery, pers. Comm..; Ott 1993, 1994; supplemented)2

Stock Plant Part(s) Used Tryptamine
GRAMINEAE (POACEAE)

Arundo donax L.

rhizome DMT
Phalaris arundinaceae L. grass, root DMT
Phalaris tuberosa L. (Italian race) leaf DMT
Phalaris tuberosa L. (Italian race) leaf DMT
Phragmites australis (Cav.) Tr. Ex St. rhizome DMT, 5-MeO-DMT
LEGUMINOSAE (FABACEAE)

Acacia meidenii F. v. Muel.

bark DMT (0.36%)
Acacia phlebophylla F. v. Muel. leaf DMT (0.3%)
Acacia simplicifolia Druce leaf, bark DMT (0.81%)
Anadenanthera peregrina (L.) Speg. bark DMT, 5-MeO-DMT
Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacM. (Illinois bundleflower; cf. Kindscher 1992, 239-40) root cortex DMT
Desmanthus leptolobus root cortex DMT
Desmodium pulchellum Benth. Ex Baker [syn. Phyllodium pulchellum] (Iodrum) root cortex DMT
Desmodium adscendens (SW.) DC. Var. adscendens (cf. N’Gouemo et al. 1996) DMT (?)
Lespedeza capitata Michx. (cf. Kindscher 1992, 257 f.) ? DMT
Mimosa scabrella Benth. bark DMT
Mimosa tenuiflora (Willd.) Poir. root cortex DMT (0.57%)
MALPIGHIACEAE

Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) Gates

leaf DMT, 5-MeO-DMT
MYRISTACEAE

Virola sebifera Aubl.

bark DMT
Virola theidora (Spruce ex Benth.) Warb. flower DMT (0.44%)
Virola spp. Bark/resin DMT, 5-MeO-DMT
RUBIACEAE

Psychotria carthaginensis Jacquin

DMT DMT
Psychotria poeppigiana Muell. Arg. leaf DMT
Psychotria viridis leaf DMT
RUTACEAE

Dictyoloma incanescens DC.

bark 5-MeO-DMT (0.04%)
Limonia acidissima L. DMT (traces)
Melicope leptococca (Baillon) Guillaumin leaf/branch DMT (0.21%)
Pilocarpus organensis Rizzini et Occhioni alkaloids (1.06%), primarily 5-MeO-DMT
Vepris ampody H. Perr. leaf/branch DMT (0.22%)
Zanthoxylum arborescens Rose DMT (traces)

References #
  1. Becker SR. “Das Johanniskraut (Hypericum perforatum) — Antidepressivum aus der Natur: Moglichkeiten einer Theraie leichter bis mittelschwerer Depressionen”. Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Ganzheitsmedizin. 1994;1:46-49; 2:92-94.
  2. Callaway J. “Pharmahuasca and contemporary ethnopharmacology”. Curare. 1995;18(2):395-98.
  3. DeKorne J. Psychedelic Shamanism. Loompanics Unlimited. 1994.
  4. DeKorne J. Ayahuasca Analogs and Plant-Based Tryptamines; E.R. Monograph Series, no. 1.. The Entheogen Review. 1996.
  5. Festi F, Samorini S. “‘Ayahuasca-Like’ Effects Obtained with ItalianPlants”. Lecture at the II Congrés Internacional per a l’Estudio dels Estats Modificats de Consciencis, October 3-7, 1994, Llèida, Catalonia (manuscript).
  6. Kent J. “Mushroom Ayahuasca”. Psychedelic Illuminations. 1995;5:6-12.
  7. Malima. “Psilocybin und Harmala — Psilohuasca”. Entheogene. 1970;13(3):105-8.
  8. Ott J. Ayahuasca Analogues: Pangaen Entheogens. Natural Products Co.. 1994.
  9. Ott J. Enteobobotanica: Embriagantes Chamanicos. Unpublished manuscript.

Notes #
  1. For more information, see “Ayahuasca: MAOI Source Plants” in Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs by Keeper of the Trout.
  2. For more information, see “Ayahuasca admixtures & analogs” in Ayahuasca: alkaloids, plants & analogs by Keeper of the Trout.

Revision History #
  • 1.1 – Apr 24, 2008 – Rätsch – Transcribed by Justin Case, coded by Erowid.

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